Dark Patches Under the Arms

Dear Dr. Irwin, for most of my teenage & adult life (I'm 33 now) I have dark skin on my underarms. It impairs with my self-esteem and I feel embarrassed to the point that I cannot wear short-sleeve t-shirt anymore. Eventhough I shave & wax, the skin still looks dark. I tried many exfoliants from mechanical (scrub, etc.) to chemical (AHA, Am-Lactin lotion, etc.) but nothing works. I thought that this may be due to my antiperspirant. I don't consider myself sweating excessively, but deodorant alone won't help so I've been using OTC antiperspirant. What's wrong with my skin? I read also that some hormonal/metabolic imbalance can cause this. I'm on my ideal weight and my weight rarely fluctuates since teenager. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks a lot! Claire

Hi Claire –  Have you seen a dermatologist about this?  Darkening in the armpit area can be caused by a number of things including irritation from shaving or skin care products.  Or, if the darkening has a texture change in addition, something called acanthosis nigricans.  There are also bacteria that can sometimes cause darkening there.  And yes, sometimes even hormonal changes.  I think it’s too much to try to sort out on your own so please see a dermatologist as soon as you can!  Best, Dr. Irwin

Dr. Brandith Irwin, MD

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